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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Protesters Press On in Tbilisi

ReutersA group of Georgian servicemen in raincoats guarding a downtown street in Tbilisi on Tuesday as a woman walks her dog.
TBILISI, Georgia -- Protesters kept up their four-day vigil Tuesday outside the Georgian parliament, demanding that President Eduard Shevardnadze resign over alleged fraud in the parliamentary elections.

Georgia has been gripped by tension since the Nov. 2 elections, which opposition candidates accuse the government of manipulating.

The results are still being counted -- adding to opposition complaints -- more than a week after the vote. The United States has sharply rebuked Shevardnadze's government, and the opposition wants the vote declared invalid.

According to the latest, incomplete results, the pro-government bloc For a New Georgia is leading, followed by the opposition Revival party, which tends to support the government on key issues.

The more radical National Movement is in third place, the Central Elections Commission said.

National Movement leader Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been a key figure in the protests, announced late Monday that lawmakers from his party would begin a hunger strike. Initially, lawmakers suggested that another opposition party, the Democrats, would join in, but as of Tuesday, only two National Movement lawmakers were turning away food.

Saakashvili acknowledged that it is a drastic measure but insisted it was necessary to force Shevardnadze's resignation. Shevardnadze has refused to step down and instead called for dialogue with his opponents.

An initial meeting Sunday ended without result, but Shevardnadze has said he is ready to meet again. But at the same time, he is shoring up his own support. With just a little more than 20 percent of the vote, the pro-government bloc would not be able to form a parliamentary majority on its own.

On Monday, Shevardnadze attended a rally alongside Aslan Abashidze who heads Revival. Abashidze is a firm foe of Saakashvili and has urged Shevardnadze to take more decisive measures against the demonstrators. "He aligns himself not only with Abashidze but with the devil, too," Saakashvili told his supporters of Shevardnadze.